After the summer internships are over, here are 10 of the most fascinating internship stories readers have shared in the past.
But first of all, to make it clear: most interns are great! But when something goes wrong, they tend to go really wrong. Read this with nostalgia for what it’s like to be new to the world of work. And when managing interns, remember that you need to provide guidance and mentoring to help them avoid disasters.
1. The cot
“Our office was one of those ultra-modern open floor plan models where everyone sits at a table, regardless of title. Our office had many of those luxury amenities like a gym, hair salon, and supermarket that many interns considered it their own version of Google. I walked in one day and found a very neat cot next to the large communal table, complete with sheets, pillows and even towels. Our company had a lot of health reports so I thought it might be a sleep hygiene demonstration – but no. One intern had decided he needed a nap and bought and set up a cot. His manager worked in a different area and rarely came to this building. When she saw the cot and found out that it was the intern’s sleeping place, her anger was epic and appalling. “
2. The music fan
“A brand new co-op student walked into our dining room for the first time, listened to our usual entertainment (sports, major world events, Game of Thrones, and other television) for about 10 minutes, and announced that these topics didn’t interest them and we instead talked about them classical music should speak. One of my colleagues asked how that would work and said in a very condescending tone: ‘Well, if I said the name Beethoven, would you know who I mean?’ “
“I had a young clerk who always invited her boyfriend to work so he and she could make out. I still remember the look on her face when I pulled her aside to tell her that was not okay. She stared at me for a good 30 seconds before saying, ‘But I love him.’ I still don’t know what she expected from me. “
4. The brother
“I had a student intern who, without my knowledge, brought her brother with her to do her work during her studies. She had been assigned to store items in our library stacks. When I went out to check on her, I found [her] sat at a table reading while her brother stood from the shelves. Aside from the legality of a random stranger doing the work assigned to a paid intern, this guy had no formal training whatsoever; apparently she was just telling him what to do. I didn’t even want to know what their family dynamics were like. All I know is that my brothers would never do my job (if they were even able to) without getting paid for it. A few days after I thought I passed the law on this mess, she and her brother went through the same thing again! This time I chased the brother away for good, and of course his sister didn’t last long with us. “
5. “We don’t use that language around the congressman.”
“I’m a very level-headed person, but one night I had an alcohol-fueled adventure in front of some very important people. I was a political intern, and there is an annual convention that (to be honest) is just a big, drunk booze party – and I attended. My biggest embarrassments of the night were falling drunk on the governor (his security squad had to step in because I was so tipsy) and getting kicked out of a hospitality suite for reasons I don’t remember, but everything what I remember is the words ‘We don’t use that language around the congressman.’ “
6. The pajamas
“We had a summer partner who decided it would be a good idea to put on her pajamas and take a nap on her desk one summer. … She was not offered a job at the end of the summer. “
7. The terrace
“At an old gig, when assigning IT equipment, managers were given laptops and all the other PCs. I was responsible for guiding new users through their setup. When I started talking about how to log into his pc, the intern grimaced and appeared to be having a panic attack. When I asked what was going on, she said, ‘Why can’t I have a laptop?’ A little freaky, but superficially cool, I explained the general IT tasks.
She started to cry.
I just looked at her for a minute, completely freaked out, when she whined, ‘What if I want to go outside? Or do I see something on the terrace that inspires me? How could you do that Why?!’ It didn’t last long this summer. “
8. The wine
(This one isn’t disastrous, just funny.)
“I worked for a government agency the summer after my sophomore year. I was 20 years old, I was doing pretty well, had a good time, got to know my colleagues. Towards the end of the internship, I casually mentioned to a woman who had become something of a mentor to me that I was leaving soon, and she said, ‘We have to celebrate. We’ll buy you candy and wine. ‘
Now I had about 8 months to my 21st birthday, so without thinking, I said, ‘Sweets sound great, but let’s wait about 8 months with the wine.’
I didn’t understand what I was suggesting until she embarrassedly tried to congratulate me. To this day I wonder if she ever noticed that I was actually not pregnant. “
9. The wage inequality
“My office once had an intern who was eventually fired for a lack of professionalism. After he was laid off, we discovered his Twitter account, on which he had complained for weeks that there was no gender pay inequality because he (an intern) was paid less than we (his managers, all women who had everything. ) had been with the company for more than 5 years at this time.)
This wasn’t even an unpaid internship! He earned more than the minimum wage on an entry-level internship as his first job after college! But apparently he was proving that as an intern he didn’t make money for managers, and proved that ‘reverse sexism’ was somehow real and alive.
10. Rick’s list
“My company hires several interns from the local university every summer, and most of them come up with the idea that they know more than the rest of us and will change the face of the company as we know it. The one I saddled a few summers ago didn’t seem like that, so I figured there wouldn’t be any problems … until I went on vacation for a week.
During my absence, I let ‘Rick’ contact all of our suppliers to make sure we all had their latest terms and conditions on file. I thought what the harm in calling suppliers and making a simple request that they are used to? Well, apparently Rick took it upon himself to “negotiate” existing terms and prices with our established suppliers. Note that many of these contracts are quite complicated and take many months to write. They usually contain a few words with the effect that those terms are set, don’t come back and ask for better prices just because.
The gasoline was on the fire when Rick decided to get tough and said to some of them, “Well, if you can’t give us better prices then we’ll go to someone who can,” then he called the alternate suppliers and provide you with all specifications and current prices for our materials (all proprietary by the way).
In our industry, the supplier-buyer relationship is very tricky and, at best, hesitant. In many cases, companies are not just suppliers, but also customers, and in some cases, competitors. … Because of the sharing of certain proprietary information and bad blood, we now generally have a list of companies that we cannot or should not buy or sell from. In his honor we named it Rick’s List. “